You Have To Feel It To Heal It: The Only Way Out Is Through

You Have To Feel It To Heal It: The Only Way Out Is Through

I plodded up the half-mile hill that led to my house, my backpack weighing heavily on my shoulders in the insistent summer heat. The mild breeze that drifted off the Boston harbor was a cruel joke, hinting at coolness but offering no respite.

Recently heartbroken, I felt tears streaming hotly down my cheeks for the third time that day as the pain of my ex-partner’s absence crashed swiftly on my heart.

I reached out to a trusted friend seeking solace. “Sobbing again” I texted her, knowing she would decipher the pain behind my words. She hesitated for a moment before responding: “Duh.”

I hiccupped mid-sob, surprised.

She went on: “Feel it. It’s going to hurt. But every moment you’re sobbing, you’re doing the work. Every moment you’re hurting, you’re healing. The only way out is through.”

I stared at the screen, digesting her words. That was the last thing I’d expected. I’d expected to be coddled or encouraged to look at the bright side. I’d expected to be force-fed an ice cream cone at J.P. Licks.

This was different. For the first time in my grieving process, I wasn’t told to gloss over my feelings with a coat of rose-colored paint. Someone I trusted was encouraging me to feel my pain in its entirety. Through her eyes, my pain was valid and productive—a necessary step on my journey toward healing.

Her direct acknowledgement of my suffering was the permission I needed to truly feel my pain instead of avoid it. Instead of worrying that I wasn’t trying hard enough to be happy—instead of worrying that I was taking “too long” to heal—I felt like I was doing everything properly.

I could celebrate the work I was doing, even when that work was breaking into sobs, for the third time that day, on the half-mile walk home.

My pain and grief had meaning.

It could serve a purpose.

It could serve me.

Since then, I’ve developed a new way of looking at pain:

When we allow ourselves to fully experience painful or uncomfortable feelings, we are doing work. Sitting with our feelings instead of disengaging or distracting ourselves is work.

Once we accept that we are doing work, we can silence our internal critic that believes that feeling pain means we’re “doing something wrong.” Instead, we begin to understand that feeling our pain is important and productive.

When we understand the true nature of our work, we can summon compassion for ourselves as we move through our uncomfortable feelings on the path to healing, peace, and wholeness.

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10 Amazing Things That Happen When You Kick Alcohol Out Of Your Life

10 Amazing Things That Happen When You Kick Alcohol Out Of Your Life

Today is my one–year Soberversary. I’m sitting on the carpeted floor of my apartment in oversized sweatpants, a mug of tea to my right, the cool blue sky out the window to my left.

Calm mornings like this are relatively new to me. They’re a trademark of the sober lifestyle I chose one year ago today, and they – like so many of my new routines and simple pleasures – are sacred to me. Sobriety has reshaped my life in ways I never could have predicted.

This journey that I assumed would be difficult, isolating, and painful has been replete with silver linings. Though I never formed a physical dependence on alcohol, I abused it from day one. My five-year relationship with drinking was the origin of many traumatic memories, painful injuries, toxic relationships, and though I didn’t realize it then, my deepest wellspring of shame.

And so after five years of drinking, I made the difficult decision to quit.

My decision was predicated on months of reading, journaling, and wondering – wondering if my drinking was “bad enough” to warrant sobriety and wondering how hard it would be to quit. I was nervous at how my life would change. My mind was occupied with everything I’d miss as a sober person, and I struggled to imagine how a sober life could be satisfying and enlivening – an intoxicant all on its own.

When the benefits of sobriety began appearing – subtly at first, then rapidly, like a breaking dam – I realized that my life had become far more interesting than it was before. Becoming sober was the first choice I ever made to prioritize my health, wellness, and spirit, in spite of the fact that it would restrict me from certain activities, weaken certain friendships, and fundamentally restructure my lifestyle. That’s why sobriety honestly feels like my greatest achievement. I’m proud of it, right to my bones.

It opened my eyes to the many ways we use numbing agents to create barriers between ourselves and the raw, uncomfortable, potent experiences of living in this world.

What began as a commitment to avoid hangovers became a commitment to getting in touch with my heart, a commitment to living in the present moment in spite of discomfort, and a commitment to experiences and people that make me feel fundamentally nourished and safe.

The way I see it, we’re not incentivized to kick an addiction until we begin to believe in a brighter alternative – an alternative that feels more inspiring and satisfying than the addiction. When I quit drinking, I knew that if I was going to permanently resist the buzz of booze, I needed a compelling alternative waiting in the wings.

Here are the 10 amazing things that happened when I kicked alcohol out of my life…

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